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AEA merger approved

Tuesday, June 11, 2002

Board of Education give go-ahead

The State Board of Education approved on Thursday the voluntary reorganization of two area education agencies (AEAs). This is a historical decision, says Arrowhead spokeswoman Connie Johnson, since AEAs 3 and 5 are the first in the state to start the process.

The state board's approval enables Lakeland AEA 3 and Arrowhead AEA 5 (based in Fort Dodge and serving the Storm Lake region) to become the first AEAs to merge into one entity. The two AEAs have been working toward a merger for almost a year.

"Both AEA 3 and AEA 5 have worked carefully to assure this consolidation of services will continue to provide high-quality educational resources to school districts and students," said Ted Stilwill, director of the State Department of Education. "These AEAs should be commended for anticipating the future needs of their schools and school districts and taking the action needed to meet those needs."

Beginning July 1, the agencies will share services of chief administrator William Garner and business manager Steve Beeghley. Official reorgan-ization will be July 1, 2003.

Since gaining the state's consent, an initial board has been created. This initial board, with membership based on population figures, has been appointed from existing members of both AEA boards.

The board's first meeting will be held today at the Fort Dodge office to appoint an acting administrator and board secretary. The board will also set elections for the new AEA board of directors which will oversee development of the reorganized agency. Upon completion of these duties, the initial board will be dissolved.

During the 2002-03 school year, three boards will operate - the current AEA 5, current AEA 3 board and the newly elected board of the merged AEA. It is the latter board that will be responsible for naming the new agency, developing board policies, procedures, employ-ment issues and other matters.

The reorganization process began in August of 2001 when Al Wood, AEA 3 administrator, and Donna Johnson, AEA 3 business manager, announced they would retire this July.

Declining enrollments and tightened budgets were also driving factors in merger discussions.

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